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5 Steps for Conducting a Personal Trainer Risk Assessment

personal trainer risk assessment

5 Simple Steps For Conducting A Personal Trainer Risk Assessment

A personal trainer risk assessment helps you deliver a professional service by creating a safe environment for your client to exercise in. This article will guide you through the steps to complete a risk assessment and develop your knowledge in the following areas:

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Why a Personal Training Risk Assessment Is Essential

A personal trainer risk assessment identifies hazards that could undermine your client’s physical health whilst training and allows you to introduce measures to protect them.

These hazards could involve but are not limited to equipment, gym surfaces and the client’s physical health.

If an assessment for personal trainer health and safety is carried out correctly, the chances of your client sustaining an injury are reduced. You have identified risks and created a controlled environment that puts their care first.

Don’t forget injuries can happen even with robust safety measures. That is why it is important to have a completed risk assessment in the event you need personal trainer insurance to submit a claim.

Insurers can deny your claim if you have not presented evidence of a risk assessment being implemented to ensure your client’s safety. 

Step 1 - Start Your PT Risk Assessment With a Full Rundown of Potential Risks

personal trainer health and safety

When it comes to personal trainer health and safety, you need to understand what qualifies as a hazard and what defines risk to complete an assessment correctly.

The Oxford Learner Dictionary defines a hazard as: 

something that can be dangerous or cause damage

And defines risk as:

the possibility of something bad happening in the future; a situation that could be dangerous or have a bad result

With these definitions in mind, let’s look at some dangers that could undermine your client’s health.

Tripping Hazards Can Happen Anywhere in the Gym 

pt risk assessment

Tripping hazards present themselves in different areas of the gym; from damaged flooring, and slippery surfaces to gym equipment that hasn’t been stored away. If these hazards have not been considered in your risk assessment, your client runs the risk of falling over and potentially injuring themselves.

These risks can be mitigated by conducting a sweep of the gym floor; making sure mopped surfaces are marked with yellow signs and loose gym equipment is stored away properly.  

Cleaning Chemicals Can Be a Hazard if They’re Not Correctly Labelled or Stored Away

personal trainer health and safety

Cleaning materials are vital to maintaining gym hygiene. However, if they’re not correctly labelled, sealed or stored away, they can cause eye and skin irritation, and if ingested, could require emergency treatment. 

Following the COVID pandemic, gyms have cleaning stations labelled for customers. Instructing your client to only use these cleaning stations will stop them from using hazardous cleaning chemicals.

If you haven’t become a personal trainer with first aid training, it is important to know who the first aider on site is. In the event, your client has eye or skin irritation from a cleaning product, this will help them receive medical treatment to treat the problem.

Damaged Equipment Can Cause Your Client to Have an Injury

personal trainer risk assessment 1

Equipment in any gym suffers wear and tear which can lead them to become faulty. Treadmill belts can slip, weight stacks can stick and weight caps on barbell weights can become loose causing them to become unbalanced. 

If equipment is used when broken, this could lead your client to suffer injuries whilst they’re exercising. Thankfully a knowledgeable health and safety personal trainer can reduce these types of injuries occurring by checking the equipment featured in your client’s session plan.

If you discover one of them is damaged, you can amend your session plan to include gym equipment that won’t cause any injury.

Biological Hazards Can Cause Your Client to Catch an Infection

personal trainer health and safety

Gym environments can lead your client to be exposed to bodily fluids or needles from steroid usage. This increases their risk of potentially catching an infection.

When carrying out a risk assessment for your pt session, one way you can reduce their exposure is by checking changing rooms; making sure they’re clean and needle bins are present.

This can be checked by communicating with the management on-site and checking the latest cleaning checks have been carried out.

Noise Levels Can Damage Your Client’s Hearing

personal training risk assessment remplate

Music is a key part of any gym experience, helping to boost your client’s motivation. However, personal training health and safety should consider whether decibel levels exceed recommended limits, as this can cause hearing damage.

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, people can be exposed to noise for one hour that does not exceed 94 dB. 

Before your client’s session, you can use sound metre apps or communicate with the gym’s management to confirm the volume of the music. If these levels exceed recommended levels, you can ask management to reduce the volume.

When carrying out personal training on health and safety it is important to prevent your client from experiencing hearing damage but to also allow you to communicate effectively when you’re giving instructions. 

Hot Temperatures Can Cause Dehydration and Affect Performance

personal trainer risk assessment

When it comes to health and safety as a personal trainer, temperatures inside a gym can also present a hazard to your client’s well-being if it is not regulated properly. When the temperature is too hot, your client will become dehydrated, affecting their performance but also leading to potential injuries.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the ideal temperature to exercise in a gym is between 20 and 22ºC. Speaking to management to confirm the temperature of the gym is a great way to guarantee your client is exercising in a safe environment.

Regardless of the temperature, it is also sensible to advise your clients to stay hydrated whilst they’re working out with you. This will help optimise their performance but reduce the chances of them risking their health.

 

Advance Your Career As A Personal Trainer

Develop a specialism and gain more clients with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course.

 

Step 2 - Identify Whether Your Client Is at Risk

personal trainer risk assessment template

After identifying potential hazards in a gym environment, your pt risk assessment will need to identify whether your client could be injured. To understand the likelihood of your client becoming injured, you will need to consider a few factors: 

  • Your client’s age
  • Their current physical health (including any injuries or whether you’re training a disabled client)
  • Skill level 
  • Received induction to reduce the chance of injuries

Based on these factors, you will be able to complete a tailored assessment that reduces the risk of injury towards your client but also allows them to complete an effective training session. 

For example, if you’re a personal trainer with a client diagnosed with arthritis, you will need to consider low-impact exercises to avoid aggravating their condition. If their skill level is low, you will need to introduce clear, step-by-step instructions to prevent them from performing exercises incorrectly.

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Check out our article below to see how you can do the most for your clients:

Step 3 - Record & Evaluate The Findings Of Your Personal Trainer Risk Assessment

personal training risk assessment

You have seen examples of hazards that could exist in a gym and physical factors that could place your client in harm. Now it is time to complete a risk assessment form.

The Health and Safety Executive website has a useful personal training risk assessment template to help you understand what information you need to include in your assessment.

personal trainer risk assessment 2

Health and Safety Executive Risk Assessment Form Template

As you can see from the example above, included in this personal training risk assessment template are questions for you to answer. Including the following: 

  1. What are the hazards?
  2. Who might be harmed and how?
  3. What are you doing to control the risks?
  4. What further action do you need to take to control the risks?
  5. Who needs to act?
  6. When is the action needed?
  7. Done?

To help you answer these questions, we have created a hypothetical gym scenario and client for a training session: 

  • Gym environment: leak from ceiling causing a slippery surface
  • Client: male, mid-50s with a knee injury and a beginner at the gym

Answering the first two questions in the HSE risk assessment, this is what the form would look like: 

health and safety trainer 5

When you complete a personal trainer risk assessment template, it is essential to document every hazard and potential risk you and your client may encounter. This will help you complete the next step of the assessment procedure.

 

Step 4 - Implement Safety Precautions Following Your Risk Analysis

health and safety personal trainer

Once your risk assessment for a pt session has identified hazards and risks, it is essential to use measures to mitigate them. One way you can implement safety measures for your client is by scoring them based on their likelihood of happening.

This can take the form of a traffic light system (red=very likely, amber=possible and green=very unlikely) or a numerical system (1=very unlikely and 10=very likely). These can be included in the personal trainer risk assessment template you fill out.

If we return to the two examples we listed in our sample risk assessment, there was an external factor (a leaking roof/slippery surface) and a personal factor (the client’s knee injury) that presented hazards to our client’s well-being. 

We will now use a numerical system to score their risk level in the second column of the document.  If these hazards were left untreated, this would create an unsafe environment that would risk the client’s health and worsen their knee injury.

Therefore, It is safe to argue there is a high risk towards our client if repairs and cleaning are not carried out, along with a training session that does not take pressure off their lower body where the injury has occurred.

health and safety personal trainer 6

 

Advance Your Career As A Personal Trainer

Develop a specialism and gain more clients with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course.

 

These risks have both been graded a 10, indicating the likelihood they will cause harm to our client. Now that we have identified the level of risk these hazards present, we can now introduce measures to prevent them.

How to Introduce Measures to Remove External Risk Factors

Let’s begin with the leak from the ceiling which is creating a slippery surface in the gym. If you look at columns C and D, you can see that a couple of measures have been considered. These include: 

  • Communication with management to address leak (hiring contractor)
  • Requesting the use of yellow signs to caution our client, along with customers members and staff 
  • Regularly cleaning to reduce the size of the leak on the gym floor

risk assessment for pt 7

A couple of these measures require communication with management whilst others can be completed by ourselves. 

It is important to keep lines of communication open with management for updates on the steps they have taken to repair the leak. This will help us run an effective session and avoid this area of the gym whilst the leak and repairs are ongoing.

A more proactive step is speaking to the cleaners to maintain safety around this area or locating mops and yellow signs within the gym to tackle this issue ourselves.

Remember it is essential to execute all safety measures to protect your client. 

How to Introduce Measures to Remove Personal Risk Factors

When it comes to our client’s knee injury, there are more proactive steps that can be taken to minimise their risk, these have been listed in columns C and D too. This includes:

  • An amended session plan to carry out upper body exercises that the client can perform sitting down, to put less pressure on the injured knee. 

When it comes to our client’s knee injuries, there are more proactive steps that can be taken to minimise their risk. 

First, we can see that a doctor has provided written approval for them to carry out exercises. Secondly, they can complete a par-q form and understand why it is important for us as a trainer.

These considerations will help determine whether our client is physically fit to carry out their session. 

If you give your client similar considerations, it will give them confidence in your abilities because they are performing exercises based on their current ability. 

Remember!

A risk assessment for pt allows you to postpone a session with your client if you believe they’re at risk. This will put their safety first but also protect you from any claims of professional negligence. 

Step 5 - Review Your Personal Training Risk Assessment

risk assessment for pt 8

Remember a pt risk assessment is constantly under review and will change based on the environment and clients you’re working with. 

If we review our client’s risk assessment, in the coming weeks their knee injury could be completely healed. This would allow us to remove the measures put in place to avoid exercising their lower body. 

We could then focus on exercises that involve different areas of the body if there are no measures needed to protect our client from any risks.

When you’re training different clients, there will be other hazards, requiring different safety measures to include in a new risk assessment. 

These hazards could come from medical conditions or medications they’re taking. You may need to consider risks and guidance for the personal training of blind clients

If you consider how these would affect them in a gym environment, you will be able to create a safe training session for them.

External factors can also change week by week too. The example we gave earlier, with the leaking roof might be resolved, so it wouldn’t need to be featured on a new risk assessment. 

However, that same gym the following session might have music playing above the recommended levels or the temperature might be too high.

So you would need to consider what measures and lines of communication you would need to have with management to safeguard your client.

Always remember, it is important to complete each step of a risk assessment.  This will help safeguard your client, and yourself, and create a controlled environment for them to enjoy their training sessions with you.

 

Before You Go!

We hope this article helps you write an effective risk assessment for each of your clients. Check out how you can continue to advance your career and gain more clients with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition CourseEnquire now or download the OriGym course prospectus to learn about the other courses that you can study with us.

Written by Liam Donohoe

Content Writer and Fitness Enthusiast

Liam graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. He has also co-written a short film that has been featured in several film festivals. In October 2023, he ran and completed his first half marathon and for 2024, he's now training to complete his first metric marathon.

In his spare time, Liam likes to teach himself German, read books, lift weights and listen to metal music that only passionate fans of the genre will understand.

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